WASHINGTON, D.C. (September 18, 2018) — In a surprising bit of bipartisan good news for young adults undergoing cancer treatment, U.S. Reps. Tom Cole (R-Okla.) and Betty McCollum (D-Minn.) joined forces to secure a pause for their student loan payments. Young adult cancer patients typically incur an additional $45,000 in debt while undergoing treatment as the combined costs of treatment and frequent inability to work impact their ability to maintain payments.
“Age is a barrier to surviving and thriving after a cancer diagnosis in the United States,” said Kate Yglesias Houghton, President & CEO of Critical Mass: The Young Adult Cancer Alliance. “Mr. Cole and Ms. McCollum are heroes to thousands of young adults undergoing cancer treatment and shouldering the burden of student loan payments.”
“This is tremendous news for thousands of young Americans battling cancer right now,” said Dr. Damon Reed, Moffitt Cancer Center Adolescent and Young Adult Oncology Medical Director. “Thanks to strong Congressional leadership and bipartisan support, we may now soon be able to cross mounting student loan debt off the long list of pressing concerns faced by people in cancer treatment.”
“For years we have seen what happens in the absence of protections like this – young adults forced into forbearance or defaulting entirely on their student loans. The negative impact is felt for years, if not decades, afterwards,” said Samantha Watson, Founder & CEO of The Samfund, who is a two-time cancer survivor and has dispersed millions in grants to young adults on the verge of bankruptcy due to a cancer diagnosis. “This exciting and important first step will prevent many of the life crises we see on a daily basis.”
Rep. Cole chairs the House Appropriations Committee Labor Subcommittee. Rep. McCollum is the ranking Member of the House Appropriations Committee Interior Subcommittee. Together, they added HR2976, The Deferment for Active Cancer Treatment Act to the 2019 Defense, Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act. Their joint statement can be found here
Introduced by Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) and Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-CO), HR 2976 allows any American in active cancer treatment to defer their student loans and prevent interest from being added for up to 6 months after they complete treatment.